A few weeks ago, I took TestTubeGames on the road (and internationally, at that!) when I took part in the iGamer Festival in Paris.
Now, after finally being done with jet-lag, and playing catch-up, here’s some takeaways from the trip:
1. It wasn’t a trap!
It’s not every day you get an email from someone who wants to fly you to Paris. Especially not just because you make indie games. Naturally, it seemed too good to be true! But indeed, this was legit. It was a two-day event at the science museum in Paris, where I, and about a dozen other developers, showed off our science/research-related games.
2. There are some rad people working on science games!
I got to meet great developers from around the world. And the Venn-diagram overlap between our interests was small enough that there was a whole lot to be interested in. There were people who made language-learning games, or games that probed the thermodynamics of creativity (yeah.), or modded games to work in classrooms, or made popular science-related games like a little thing called Kerbal Space Program. To name a few. There was so much to learn by talking to other developers. And a whole lot of fun to be had, too.
Meeting other devs was my big goal in going to this festival, and I was not disappointed.
3. Language barriers make for great playtesting
So, this event took place in France. Where they speak French. I, however, do not speak French. And here I was showing off a couple of my games to a bunch of museum visitors. Families, kids, people who weren’t interested in speaking or reading English. (Naturally.)
That was one of my big worries going into this – how would I communicate?
Turns out, it was a great reminder of one of the core tenets of playtesting — talk to the player as little as possible. The game should be intuitive, it should require very minimal introduction (I can say ‘please’ and point to the chair… which is about all the introduction people neeeded). With just a few key words (‘faster’, ‘spacebar’, ‘great!’) I really had everything I needed to show off the game.
And it revealed the points in the game where the mechanics were not intuitive very, very clearly.
4. Old science equipment is awesome
The trip was very quick – and I only ended up with about a half-day to go and see Paris. (The first day, namely, when I was nursing my jet-lag.) Not much time, but I did manage to make it to one of my favorite museums in all of Paris: the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
They have an incredible collection of old science equipment, from that era when tools were half-art. And where scientists were able to do things that, given their rudimentary equipment, seem impossible (gasp, no computers, or photo-gates, or lasers?).
5. A Trophy!
Ah, yes, the final takeaway from the event – a 3D printed trophy! The festival also happened to be a competition, and I’m delighted and honored to have won. I chalk it up mainly to the fact that (a) it was based on votes from the public, and (b) I was right next to the door where people came in. But it is a huge honor nonetheless, especially given how neat the other projects were.
A big thanks to the folks over at the CRI institute (namely, Alexandre and Julie) for arranging the event. I had a blast, and look forward to next year!